30 Years of the Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau
Eddie Aikau drowned in 1978 while on a sailing expedition. A surfing ambassador for the Hawaiian people, he was a dominant competitive force and a lifeguard at Hawaii's Waimea Bay. In 1984, the Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau began in his honor. Today, it is considered the most prestigious contest in surfing and is held only when the surf tops 30 feet. In its 30-year history, the contest has been called to run only eight times.
Only 28 surfers are selected to compete in The Eddie at Waimea Bay. They are voted in by their peers. On the first Thursday in December, they all gather in Waimea's beach park for the opening ceremony. After that, as the saying goes, "The Bay calls the day."
The brother of Eddie, Clyde Aikau (in red) won the contest in 1986 and was still going strong in 2009-10.
Keoni Downing, Bruce Irons
Keoni Downing (wiping out) won the third incarnation of the Eddie in 1989-90. Fifteen years later, Bruce Irons (still standing) proved that he ranks right up there with the world's best surfers. Putting an exclamation point on his 2004-05 victory, he rode his winning wave all the way into the shore break, where he pulled into a huge closeout and flipped the bird to everyone on the beach in the process.
The only Australian to ever win the contest, Ross Clarke Jones held off a talented field in 2000-01. Throughout his career, the Bay had beaten Jones down, breaking his back and causing other serious injuries. His podium-topping performance was redemption for all the poundings.
Underground Hawaiian charger Noah Johnson came out of nowhere to win the 1998-99 Eddie.
Eleven-time ASP world champion Kelly Slater won the Eddie in 2001-02, adding to his already-robust trophy case. He counts it as one of the best moments of his storied career, and today he rides the same board on which he won The Eddie.
In 2009-10, Greg Long was at the top of his game. He was the winningest big-wave surfer in the world, and with time winding down in the final, he took off on this beast and rode into the history books.
Waimea has been a place of reverence for Hawaiians since the early days of life on the islands. The traditional Hawaiian prayer circle in Waimea Bay is a chance not only to reflect on the life of Eddie Aikau but also to pay respect to the sacred surfing grounds.
Darryl "Flea" Virostko
Guts and glory -- that's the only way to win an Eddie crown. If you're not pushing it, you're not going to make the final. Taking off way too steep and deep, Darryl "Flea" Virostko earned top honors in 2004-05 for the contest's worst wipeout.
Hawaii big-wave surfer Mark Healey tries to hold his line on a late drop in the 2009-10 contest. He didn't make it.
Shane Dorian is considered by many to be the best big-wave surfer in the business; he's possibly the most talented big-wave surfer to not have a win at The Eddie. Proving how hard it is to actually win the contest, the title has eluded him thus far.
Hawaiian powerhouse, ASP world champion and multiple Triple Crown winner, Sunny Garcia cuts back on a thick one.